Online Tuner


What is a Tuner?

A tuner is a device musicians use to detect pitch accuracy. It will let a musician know if the note they are playing is sharp (too high), flat (too low), or if it is in tune. The accuracy of a pitch is what musicians call intonation. Tuners work by detecting the frequency of the pitch (sound waves). For example, an A is 440 hz. If an A is sharp, it will be 441 hz or higher. If it is flat, it will register as 439 hz or lower. While tuners work by tracking hertz, musicians measure how close they are to the pitch in measurements of cents. Cents and hertz are not the same thing.

How To Use A Chromatic Tuner

Playing with a tuner will help develop your intonation and an understanding of the tendencies of your instrument. To use this instrument tuner, make sure the built in microphone has web access.

  1. Play any note. You will see the needle move and the strobe rotate until it finds the pitch you are playing. This tuner is tuned to A440. Remember, these notes are shown in concert pitch. If you play guitar, piano, or another instrument pitched in C, then you will see the note name of the pitch you play. If you play an instrument that needs to transpose, like trumpet or french horn, then you will need to understand how to transpose.
  2. Once the tuner recognizes what note you are playing, try to adjust it so that it stays perfectly steady and centered on the dial. If you had to bring the pitch up, you were flat. If you had to bring the pitch down, then you were sharp.
  3. Make an adjustment to your instrument, either by adjusting a slide, a peg, or whatever your instrument equivalent is. Play the note again. If the needle and strobe are centered and steady, then your instument is tuned.

How To Practice With A Tuner

Even if your instrument is in tune, there might still be pitches within a musical passage that just don't sound right. Here is a process to fix any out of tune notes.

  1. Start by checking to see if your instrument is generally well tuned.
  2. Identify the problem notes by playing through a short passage of music (no more that 15 measures). These might be problem notes that are specific to you or they might be due to tendencies with your instrument. For example, on wind instruments there are certain fingerings that will naturally be sharp or flat.
  3. Once you have found those problem notes, play the passage of music slowly and then stop and hold the problem note and look at the tuner. Try to adjust the note so that it gets in tune (the strobe will stay steady). This might mean changing fingerings, adjusting your embouchure, or playing around with your air support.
  4. Remember the adjustment you made and replay the passage. When you get to the problem note, try to hit it with the adjustment in mind. Hold the note and look at the tuner. How did you do?
  5. Repeat this process until you can consistently hit the note in tune.
  6. Write down what you needed to do in order to make the adjustment in your practice journal or notate it in your music.

What Causes A Note To Be Out of Tune?

  1. Temperature can cause an instrument to be out of tune. If an instrument is cold, it will tend to be flat. If it is hot, it will tend to be sharp. This can be challenging for wind players as instruments heat up as they play them due to hot air.
  2. Fingering combinations. Wind instruments change pitch by making the instrument longer or shorter. An easy example to picture is the trombone. When a trombone player extends the slide, the pitch gets lower. The same is true for all wind instruments. However, many instruments have multiple ways to play the same pitch (Example: on a trumpet, pressing the first and second valve is the same as pressing just the third valve). Some fingerings have natural tendencies to be flat or sharp.
  3. Air support. For wind instruments and vocalists, air support can impact a note�s intonation. Not enough air support will make the note flat.
  4. What role a note plays in a chord. A major chord is made of three notes (the root, the third, and the fifth). For a chord to sound in tune, the third will need to be lowered (lowered by 14 cents) and the fifth will need to be raised (raised by 2 cents). If the third was to be played perfectly according to a tuner, it would be out of tune with the rest of the chord.

How to Tune Chords

In the last bullet above, we saw that a chord can sound out of tune even though every member of the chord is showing as in tune on a tuner. This is known as "just intonation." This table is just a guide and not hard rules. Always default to your ear and the ears of those around you. The most common way to discuss chords in a generic way is through numbers which represent the interval relationship to the root of the chord. As an example, the C Major chord has a root of C (it will always be in the name of the chord). The next member of this chord is a third above it, E, so we call it the third.

Chord Example Root Third Fifth Sixth/Seventh
Major chord how to tune a major chord No adjustment -14 cents +2 Cents N/A
minor chord how to tune a minor chord No adjustment +16 cents +2 crents N/A
diminsihed chord how to tune a diminsihed chord No adjustment +16 cents -17 cents N/A
augmented chord how to tune an augmented chord No adjustment -14 cents -4 cents N/A
Major 6th how to tune a Major 6th chord No adjustment -14 cents +2 cents -14 cents
minor 6th how to tune a minor sixth chord No adjustment +16 cents +2 cents +19 cents
diminished flat-6th how to tune a diminished flat sixth chord No adjustment +16 cents -17 cents +14 cents
Seventh chord how to tune a seventh chord No adjustment -14 cents +2 cents -31 cents
Major seventh chord No adjustment -14 cents +2 cents -12 cents
minor seventh chord how to tune a minor seventh chord No adjustment +16 cents +2 cents +18 cents